Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Team

Next to a good heist story, one of my favorite plot archetypes is "who is the mole?" So this week's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was right up my alley, with its tale of suspicion and distrust as one of the Inhumans had been secretly mind-controlled by Hive (who thankfully now has a name besides "Ward").

But before we got to that, we got a fun opening act of action where Daisy's Secret Warriors wrecked some shop. I liked the reminders that these weren't trained agents used to this sort of thing, particularly when Joey was profoundly rattled over killing somebody. You don't become a superhero overnight, even if your powers are given to you overnight.

The Inhumans' inexperience played perfectly into how quickly the team came apart at the seams under the cloud of suspicion. I thought the question of "who is Hive's inside man" had a decent red herring in play. While I never believed that Lincoln was actually responsible once the finger had been pointed at him, the knowledge that Hive himself is living inside a dead body made me wonder if zombie Lucio might be getting up off the slab at some point to cause trouble.

But ultimately, the show opted for the twist that gives the most narrative promise down the back stretch -- having Daisy fall under Hive's sway. It plays her powers against a largely powerless team, it taps into the checkered history between Ward and Skye, and it puts a decent obstacle in the way of the not-entirely-shippable-so-far relationship between Daisy and Lincoln. Plenty of angles to play in the coming episodes.

Obstacles finally got out of the way of the other romantic relationship among main characters -- Fitz and Simmons finally shared a kiss in a nice scene that was both sweet and funny at times. Not only was it a big milestone for the characters, but it finally made good use of the ongoing "someone on the team is going to die" tease. Knowing how these stories so often work, the fact that these two have finally gotten together and found some happiness certainly makes you worry that one of them could be on the chopping block.

My one quibble with the episode is how quickly and unceremoniously it dispensed with long-running villain Malick. While the circumspect manner in which he was killed by Hive certainly twisted his vision of his own death in a clever way, the fact that he'd just decided to work with Coulson to get revenge -- and then us not actually getting to see any actual Malick-S.H.I.E.L.D. team-up episode -- felt like a bit of a missed opportunity.

Still, it was a solid episode overall, filled with great character beats, effective dissension-in-the-ranks mystery, and a plot development that moved another main character into the "bad guy" column. I give this episode an A-.

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